Board-JLC merger plan revealed for the first time

Proposals to unify Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council were drawn up by then Board president Jonathan Arkush but deputies have now been told the JLC has not agreed to reconsider them


The Jewish Leadership Council has declined to take up proposals to merge with the Board of Deputies which were drafted by former Board president Jonathan Arkush, deputies have been told.

In a briefing note sent to deputies this week, Board president Marie van der Zyl said  the JLC had “not agreed to reconsider”  Mr Arkush’s plan - which he produced a few months before he stepped down as president in 2018.

It is understood that the JLC’s trustees were asked to take a fresh look at the Arkush plan at a discussion of its new outline strategy last week.

But the JLC has agreed to set up a committee to “look at how the organisations work together” and to consider Board proposals on how the latter’s education department and Pajes, the JLC’s schools’ network, can better co-operate, Mrs van der Zyl said.

Last week the JC reported that she had made overtures to the JLC after becoming Board president to propose a closer working relationship with the JLC.

In a statement, the JLC said trustees had approved the new stragetgy, which "positions the JLC as an organisation that will uniquely champion, support, strengthen and challenge the Jewish not-for-profit sector, ensuring the continuity, vitality and sustainability of our wonderful community”.

The strategy, it added, would make it "possible to more clearly delineate the JLC’s mandate from that of the Board of Deputies”.  The trustees had agreed “to establish a joint committee with the Board to discuss the future relationship and opportunities for collaboration.”

Mr Arkush’s plan, drawn up as a “confidential” document in 2018 and made public for the first time by the Board, proposes a unified structure in which the JLC would operate as a council of presidents of Jewish organisations within the Board.

“The British Jewish community is too small to have two organisations speaking on its behalf,” he wrote. “The respective roles of the BoD and JLC cause confusion not only outside the community but within it.”

He said there was a “widespread view within the community that the BoD and JLC should come together.”

The combined body would “harness the strengths” of the two organisations, he stated.

Talks for the Board and the JLC to join forces were first floated in 2013 but shelved two years later.

The Board has also now released a draft “memorandum of understanding” it has proposed between itself and Pajes.

It suggests the Board’s role should be public policy including representation to the government and educating  non-Jews about Judaism, while Pajes would focus on more internal educational matters such as teacher training, curriculum development and helping Jewish schools save money.

The JLC said the draft memorandum would be considered as part of the next stage of its strategy.

Daniel Korski, a former political adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron and now one of the JLC’s vice-presidents, said its strategy review was “ laying the foundations to ensure the community’s organisations will be thriving in decades to come. It is an exciting time to be part of the JLC.”

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